I’m gonna say this upfront. This post isn’t necessarily all about affiliate marketing. Rather, it’s about how to ethically spread your message around the internet regardless of your goals.
Over the past month I’ve had a dramatic shift in my thinking as it pertains to online marketing and link building.
For the last year I’ve approached many an SEO campaign from the perspective of “How many links can I get, regardless of how I get them.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t done any major spamming or anything like that, but I also wasn’t necessarily trying to make the internet a better place either.
Most of it came down to lots of article marketing and directory submissions. The articles I’ve written varied in quality, but over time, they became repetitive and redundant.
Then something hit me. I’ve had a lot of success with Location 180. I’ve got a ton of backlinks that I earned by putting out good content. Why would I approach any other site with a different mentality?
So many people have been captivated by the allure of affiliate sites that have gone from zero to thousands of dollars in revenue over a period of weeks or months. We’ve all heard the stories of sites that have climbed from the the Google abyss to rank #1 for their main key terms – making a tidy profit in the process.
Many of these sites have achieved these goals through link wheels, article marketing, and in some cases, flat out spam. Up until this point, these strategies have worked very well when done correctly. I’ll even admit that I’ve used them to a lot of success on some of my sites. But the window of time where this is an effective marketing strategy is quickly shrinking – and the reality is, there’s a much better and more effective way to boost the search engine rankings of your sites.
In the past month however two things have happened that have totally shifted my perception of how to successfully build links:
- Numero Uno: Google shifted it’s algorithm to try and weed out the spammers from search engines. I must not have been doing anything that bad, because none of my rankings were negatively effected, and some were actually improved. But it made me realize, that the current model is broken. Its been taken advantage of by so many people, that its only a matter of time before Google makes an even more dramatic change in they way they display their search results.
- Numero Dos: I sat down and had real conversations with some of the most successful internet marketers in the world, and you know what I learned? They didn’t rank their sites via spam (mostly) – rather they put out good content, spread the message around, and waited for the inevitable positive public feedback.
In the past I’ve started a few niche sites that were totally separate from Location 180. You know the kinds of site you keep a secret, and hope no one figures out my underserved niche. But why would I want to do that? This site is the absolute best resource I have when it comes to pimping a project or generating interest.
Sure I could probably make a ton of money building sites about instant weight loss, super Acai health benefits, and how to make a million dollars in exactly 47 seconds. Then spamming the hell out of the world.
I’d be ashamed to mention it on the blog, and even more ashamed to tell people in person what I do.
So that said, how am I currently approaching my link and site building?
By working on projects I can openly talk about.
For instance, one of my newest ventures is with my buddy Markus called HDR Software. For those of you that read Daily HDR, you know I’m all about this type of photography. I like shooting it, learning about it, and writing about it. Best part is, there’s a market there to monetize it.
It’s not in a shady industry, and I firmly believe the best way to make the site (and revenue) grow is by putting out awesome content and reviews, talking about it, and letting everything else happen naturally from there.
Don’t get me wrong, I still do some article marketing and traditional link building tactics, but the difference is that its not my primary strategy. How many people online have you seen talk about their niche sites, but won’t reveal anything about them? Way too many (props to Pat Flynn for being a very big exception to this).
I’d rather create sites around things I love, tell the world about it, and trust that good things will happen due to my positive intentions.
So all of that said, now that you guys know what I’m working on – I’ll exercise another benefit of this strategy, and ask you what you’d want to see? For those of you who are into photography (and even those that aren’t), what kind of post or review on HDR Software would intrigue and inspire you to talk about it? For me I wanted to integrate travel and such into the site with my latest post “5 Best HDR Photography Destinations” (check it out if for no other reason than some incredible photos).
If you want to learn more about ethical internet and affiliate marketing then I would highly recommend my good friend Nick Reese’s latest book “How to Turn Traffic and Trust into Sales“. It’s the best resource I’ve found on the subject.
So when you’re thinking about how you can increase traffic to your businesses and websites, don’t get sucked in to the traditional internet marketing crap. Seek to make a difference, put out awesome content, and the rest will take care of itself, regardless of what market you are in.
One final update, on Monday April 4th, I will be OFFICIALLY launching my first photography ebook: Make Your Photos Not Suck – 50 Ways to Improve Your HDR Photography. This thing has been sitting on the shelf way too long, so I’m excited to finally set a date and get it out to the world!